Released hot on the heels of The Expendables,this latest vehicle for former wrestling star Steve Austin features three of the cast members from the aforementioned action spectacular.
Here Austin plays Jim Rhodes, a border patrol agent who spent most of career patrolling the dangerous borders of Texas and Mexico, but has relocated to the mountains of Montana and the seemingly less dangerous border between the picturesque state and Canada.
Living in the mountains allows him to hone his survivalist skills and enjoy a life of safety with his teenage daughter, or so he thought.
When his daughter is taken hostage by a group of criminals who were burned by their leader following a heist on a Vegas casino, Rhodes is forced to lead them through the mountains to hunt down their former boss and retrieve their share of the heist to ensure his daughter’s safety.
This is a fairly typical action setup and, overall, the plot was fairly predictable. But even with that being the case, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Hunt To Kill. I’ve watched a fair few straight-to-video action movies in my time, so know to go in with lowered expectations and enjoy the ride, but this really is quite a strong effort. It’s by no means a masterpiece, and won’t be bagging awards or receiving mass plaudits, but it’s an entertaining action movie that’s carried by Austin’s lead performance.
His action star chops are finely displayed in the final third of the film when he goes into crazy hunter mode and stalks the fools who dared to mess with him and his daughter. Here’s where the film knuckles down and gets firmly into action territory, following the establishing scenes of the opening third and the second third, which is made up of escort duties. The first two thirds are good, but the final third is what will please fans of the genre as he deals with bad guys, busting out a few zingers along the way.
Austin is a decent enough action lead and, whilst he doesn’t quite have the same level of charisma and confidence on screen as he did when he was in the wrestling ring, he’s far better than a lot of wrestlers who have made the transition into acting. My personal opinion is that he’s better suited as the antagonist, as his recent performance in The Expendables shows. He cuts such an intimidating and menacing figure, it’s like he’s born to play the bad guy. Still, he’s beginning to deliver zingers with aplomb and it’s not that hard to root for the guy.
Another Expendables link is Eric Roberts, who has a brief appearance in the film, in which time he and Austin show a great onscreen chemistry and have a genuinely believable camaraderie. It’s a shame that they’re not on screen together longer and, hopefully, they’ll get chance to star together again in the not too distant future.
Completing the Expendables link is Gary Daniels, who’s another standout. The British former world kickboxing champion has a strong screen presence and, whilst his delivery of lines can be hit and miss at times, he cuts an imposing figure and clearly has the skills when it comes to the fight scenes. His showdown with Austin is the highlight of the film in a mostly well choreographed scene that’s competently shot. Quick cuts are kept to a minimum, allowing the audience to take in the showdown in all its glory.
If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a fan of this type of film and I would say that this is definitely worth a look. It’s got a fairly low body count and it’s quite predictable, but it’s an entertaining straight-to-video action film that’s worth watching for the showdown between Austin and Daniels alone.
There are no extras featured on the disc other than a trailer for another film starring Austin called The Stranger, which seems quite high concept in comparison to this film, but most definitely straight-to-video material.
So, with there being no extras, it was initially concerning whether this would be worth the price lift over the DVD version and I’m pleased to say that, based on the picture and sound quality, I would definitely say that it is.
Director Keoni Waxman and cinematographer Tom Harting have done a decent job of framing the action and making the most of the picturesque setting. Whether it’s the mountains of Montana, or whatever they used as a substitute, everything looks crisp and there are some fantastic shots showing off the landscape, which the picture quality of the Blu-ray fully allows you to appreciate.
There are a couple of moments of blur, such as when an explosion occurs early on in the film, and whenever bright lights are used. In these instances there’s a considerable amount of blur around the outlines of characters and objects, but other than that, the image is pretty much faultless.
The sound is also excellent and is mixed brilliantly. Everything is at the right level, so there’s no need to reach for the controls in scenes with a lot of dialogue and scramble to turn the volume down during the action sequences. It’s also got a decent DTS-HD master mix that, whilst isn’t exactly demo material, is still another plus point for the release.
Hunt To Kill will be released on Blu-ray on October 11th can be pre-ordered from the Den Of Geek Store.